Crux of the Matter

The minister punctuates his sermon with thrusts of his fist onto the cover of his Bible. “The resurrection is not myth (he means a lie) and it is not metaphor (he means a frivolous figure of speech). If you do not believe the resurrection is literal and a historical fact, then you are not a real Christian.
My imagination sails backwards to a scene at a yellow Formica table one afternoon. A minister friend and I munch on leftovers from her fridge. “Off the cuff, Pat, what do you think the resurrection means?” She shrugs. Impressed with her honesty, I tell her a story. “Once I was cross-examined, nailed fast with words like ‘Objection! Inadmissible! Hearsay!’ spat at me by the hired gun attorney of a man who’d sodomized his two and three-year-old sons. I was a young therapist who’d heard the boys’ foster parents relay all of the classic symptoms of abuse. I had felt the nausea upon hearing the boys at a CPS supervised visit beg their father, ‘please don’t make us play horsey, Daddy’. One of the boys even drew a picture with crayons of ‘how Daddy hurted me’.  I knew this Judge’s reputation for returning traumatized children to their ‘innocent’ parents. I pleaded, ‘your Honor, if you’ll only listen to the foster parents…’ His gavel came down like an ax on my ego, ‘Step down, Little Lady. That’s not how I do things in my courtroom.’ I felt dead.”  Three days later, the CPS worker called me, ‘Good news. The Judge put the foster parents on the stand, a first for him. He terminated the parents’ rights. The foster parents want to adopt the boys.’ Halleluiah!”
Pat plants her elbows on the table and glares at me, I have clearly stepped on one of her spiritual landmines.
“Okay, I didn’t literally die. I am not confusing myself with Jesus. But, I have my share of imago dei. Besides, in contemplative prayer, we’re instructed to identify with our spiritual heroes and heroines and –“
“Heroes and heroines! Jesus was not just some storybook character!” Pat lights into a pork chop.
“But, Pat, these Bible stories that we cut our teeth on taught us to take risks, to launch out into the spiritual unknown. The Jewish roots that provided the colorful backdrop kept my faith grounded until I had experience.” I nibble on stale bread wishing it were manna.
“You’re comparing yourself to Jesus?”  She glowers at me over steamed bifocals.
“Let’s put it this way. I believe the resurrection happened in history literally, But, if archeologists were to find the real cross, prove that He died and present empirical evidence of His resurrection and ascension -”
Pat sputters iced tea, “-  there’d certainly be a long line at the museum”.
“I’d be disappointed.” I declare, setting my tea glass down firmly.
“Disappointed! Whatever for?”
“That’d spoil it for me. It would be like Psyche sneaking up on Cupid in the night to get a look at him. It’d be like spilling hot oil on the mystery.”
After the last verse of “Just as I Am”, Mike saunters to the communion table and straightens the stack of plates of cracker crumbs. He replaces the fallen clump of plastic Muscatine grapes onto the table. He brandishes the pastor’s Bible and smoothes its crumpled cover, stroking it like a beloved pet.
I follow him, amazed how an autistic adult can communicate so beautifully the need for Holy Order. He spreads his arms like airplane wings. He plants both feet firmly onto the red carpet. Horizontal. Vertical. Solid. The cross.
“Mike, my imago dei salutes yours.” I bend my head and fold my hands, not altogether sure what that will communicate to him. “Namaste, Mikey. Namaste.